Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Business of Fandom: The Green Men of Vancouver

photo from the Official Green Men website

By Lisa Ovens

If the Canucks/Predators series isn’t floating your boat, there have been a few off-ice stories that might be of interest.

Well known, green spandex wearing, Vancouver hockey fans, the Green Men have a new adjective to tag onto their press releases, and that adjective is "controversial". The Green Men have appeared in the news three times this last week, and unfortunately it wasn't all about the fun and games the Green Men are known for.

Earlier this week, a Honda dealership found itself in the sites of NHL legal counsel after it was discovered the Vancouver Canucks stick and rink logo and the words “Go Canucks Go” were emblazoned prominently on the front window. The Green Men were also mentioned in the article as another auto dealer in the same group had enlisted the super fans to appear at a fundraising promotion, bringing up a potential issue with Green Men associations. (Vancouver Sun story here)

Also this week: Green Men were initially blamed for affecting the early morning commute at the Massey Tunnel (already a traffic jam to begin with) as two spandex clad fans “entertained” from the road side. It was discovered these two were imposter Green Men enlisted by some attention seeking pub in the suburbs.

Saturday it was rumored the Nashville Predators lodged a complaint against the Green Men (a rumor the Preds have denied, see story here). The Green Men, who attended Saturday night’s game, did divulge they received notice indirectly from the National Hockey League that they could no longer touch the penalty box glass when attending games. The penalty box camera angle had been adjusted to cut out most of the view of the Green Men, and even a security guard was seen sitting in the box, next to the glass separating the box from the Green Men.

So if you are the Green Men, you might ask yourself “is this all worth it?” Well, apparently it would be as the duo is working at monetizing their celebrity. They have a line of “Green Men” gear. Below is the Green Men Jersey, selling at $64.99 (with $9.99 going to charity). Plus they have logo’d T-shirts going for $30.00. You can book the Green Men for personal appearances. Their site also displays a banner ad for a company that sells the very spandex suits the duo wear.

for more green men gear, click here!

On April 26th, 2011, The Green Men tweeted “Heading to the game in style... Royal Limo giving us a lift, some Batchelor Plan girls along for the ride. See you soon Vancouver!”

So it’s not just the Vancouver Canucks and the NHL looking out for their business and their partners, it appears the Green Men have a stake of their own/ business relationships to nurture.

In the beginning, it was all very much innocent and organic with the Green Men. Coming alive one night at mid- winter regular season game vs. the Nashville Predators a few seasons ago, giving fans at the game and at home something to laugh about. Now they are testing the entrepreneurial waters, enjoying some trappings of their celebrity, and taking shots from the NHL and HNIC analyst, Glen Healy along the way.

After such a news worthy week, many fans are now speaking out in support of the Green Men. Though there are the critics out there as well. Personally, I am going to side with the people who own Rogers Arena as they have every right to dictate what is acceptable behaviour for the guests in their building. And those owners are also part of the National Hockey League, and ultimately it is their hockey show that comes first and foremost.

I know if I were sitting behind the Green Men, paying those steep club seat prices, their schtick would get pretty old, pretty fast, and I'd want them to get out of my view of the ice. Simple as that.

The Green Men have collected 82,000 “likes” on their facebook fanpage and have 7,700 followers on twitter.

Green Men Official Website

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